Mock Mars trek finds down-to-Earth sleep woes

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Associated Press

Posted on January 7, 2013 at 3:03 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 7 at 3:03 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study shows astronauts can have a very down-to-Earth problem: They don't get enough sleep.

The problem could be even worse on a long trip to Mars. Over time, the lack of slumber can turn intrepid space travelers into drowsy couch potatoes.

In a novel experiment, six volunteers were confined in a cramped mock spaceship in Moscow to simulate a 17-month voyage. It made most of the would-be spacemen lethargic, much like bears gearing up for hibernation.

The men went into a prolonged funk. Four had considerable trouble sleeping.

The study was published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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